They practice what they preach at Lee Memorial Health System. This super-sized building houses their centralized ‘Culinary Solutions’ food prep operation, where the name of the game is food safety.
“This is a 38,000 square foot facility. It’s been designed to USDA food construction safe design standards. So we have washable walls, seamless flooring, rounded covers, all the equipment is made so that it can be completely washable from top to bottom,” says Larry Altier, director of food and nutrition services with Lee Memorial Health System.
The health system recently made the move to food producer in order to control the quality of what people were getting in all of their hospital and outpatient locations.
“We currently do 13,000 meals a day out of this facility in a variety of different formats; either a retail grab-and-go format or a bulk format or an individual patient meal of some nature. We could do in the neighborhood of 45,000 meals a day at full capacity,” says Altier.
What are universal are safe food practices. The health system has the same obstacles you do, whether you’re cooking in a home or a cook in a restaurant. There are five basic food poisoning risk factors: improper storage temperatures, improper cooking temperatures, contamination, poor hygiene from food handlers and unsafe or dirty source food.
“We designed a whole new food safety program. We want to be more preventive then reactive. We want to prevent a food borne illness, rather than reacting to a food borne illness,” says Dr. Jennifer Turpin, food and nutrition quality assurance manager with Lee Memorial Health System.
The process includes quality insurance technicians who perform regular inspections and high tech data systems that regulate temperatures.
“We have an eco-house program that is temperature monitoring for the entire facility and we take a step further and we have data loggers in the truck, so we know we are going to get that food there safe and when it gets through that door of each site,” says Turpin.
Whether it’s cooking for one or producing meals for thousands each day, good food hygiene can’t be overdone.